President Donald Trump will restrict asylum claims at the southern border, fulfilling a promise he had made before the midterm elections, Justice and Homeland Security officials said Thursday.
The officials noted that the President, who is to travel to Paris later on Friday, would sign a proclamation earlier in the day that would put the new rules into effect. The announcement was immediately opposed by the ACLU, which said such a move would be contrary to U.S. law.
President Trump said last week that many migrants seek and receive asylum illegitimately, but failed to provide any evidence to support his claim, ABC News writes. He also stressed that tent cities would be put up with the help of the military to detain migrants seeking asylum. The Pentagon, however, denied it had received such a request.
Trump also said his proclamation would make it necessary for migrants to apply for asylum at a port of entry, contrary to current law under which they can apply for asylum regardless of how and where they enter the country.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and new Acting Attorney General Mathew Whitaker said the President had the authority to change the rules “if he determines it to be in the national interest,” and may impose “any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.” The two added that the suspension of the current rules would mean that “any aliens who contravene a presidential suspension … will be rendered ineligible for asylum.”
Whitaker further pointed out that there was a tremendous number of “meritless asylum seekers,” which prevents the administration from “being able to expeditiously grant asylum to those who truly deserve it.”
In response, ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project Director Omar Jadwat said “U.S. law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry. It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree.”